#IRL: FIRST Alumni Make Manufacturing More Accessible with 3-D Printing Startup

Jonathan Schwartz and Max Friefeld bonded over their shared passion for engineering, robotics, and entrepreneurship as college students. They started a 3-D printing software company as college seniors.

Years later, they started Voodoo Manufacturing, a Brooklyn-based robotic 3-D printing factory that manufactures everything from promotional phone cases to prosthetic hands quickly, in quantities up to 10,000.

“Our vision is to give everyone on Earth the power to manufacture. We think by doing that we will enable people to design products that are better, which will improve the lives of everyone that uses those products. [FIRST] really taught me how to be an engineer in the sense of understanding how to approach problems and what the engineering process looks like, from design to building to testing to having something that works.” - Jonathan Schwartz
“I learned how to teach complex problem solving, leading younger students through complex and difficult subjects that don’t have obvious answers at the beginning.  It was one of the most enjoyable parts of being on the team. I also learned a lot about failure. Our mentors were not afraid to watch us lose, probably knowing the entire time what was going to happen. I learned to be ok with that, and to rely on myself and my team to get things done. This had a strong impact on my willingness to go into the startup world because failure is the outcome 90 percent of the time.” - Max Friefeld, on his FIRST team’s focus on community outreach and mentorship

Read more about Schwartz and Friefeld’s advice to FIRST Alumni about to start their careers and businesses and what inspired them to launch Voodoo as young engineers.

#IRL ("In Real Life")

"In Real Life" is a digital campaign showcasing parallels between the skills, experiences, and values of FIRST youth and working professionals.